St. Petersburg, FL – Chris Archer threw his first career shutout to help lift the Tampa Bay Rays past the Houston Astros, 5-0, in the rubber match of a three-game set at Tropicana Field.
The Rays Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2012, Archer (4-3) showed he can be dominant in the big leagues as well. He scattered just five hits and didn't allow a free pass while striking out a career-high eight batters.
"Really, I've never pitched into the eighth inning before in my career," said Archer. "Minor league, major league, little league, whatever. It was cool, they had faith in me to go deep."
Desmond Jennings collected two hits, including a two-run home run, while Evan Longoria added an RBI for the Rays, who head into the All-Star break on a roll, winning 10 of their last 11 games.
Erik Bedard (3-6) surrendered three runs -- two earned -- on eight hits and two walks while striking out six over five frames to absorb the loss.
Brett Wallace's double was the only extra-base hit for the Astros, who end the first-half of the season losing seven of nine.
"We've been in a lot of games that we haven't been able to pull out," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "I think as we move forward in this second half, I think that we will find a way to start to win a lot of those games."
Longoria's two-out, standup double to the left-field gap got the Rays on the board in the first. Desmond Jennings, who led off with a base hit, scored from first.
Kelly Johnson started the fourth inning with a single to right. He came around to score from first on a Jose Lobaton bunt single. Bedard fielded the bunt and threw the ball into the dirt and past first baseman Carlos Pena. Following an Yunel Escobar single to put runners on the corners, Jennings grounded into a double play to plate Lobaton and make it 3-0 Rays.
Archer retired 12 of the first 13 Astros in order until Wallace doubled with one out in the fifth. Archer struck out Carlos Corporan and got Justin Maxwell to groundout to strand Wallace.
Jennings' two-out, two-run homer to right-center in the sixth capped the scoring. Johnson singled to begin the frame and scored on the homer.
Houston finished 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position, while Tampa Bay went 1-for-10 ... Longoria's double in the first was his 341st extra-base hit, passing B.J. Upton for second all-time in Rays history ... Escobar's error in the second inning snapped a 51-game errorless streak, one-game shy of the team record for shortstop set by Chris Gomez in 2002 ... The Rays pitched their 11th shutout of the season ... Tampa Bay has best record against lefty starters in the majors this year at 19-10.